23 August – Morning and Evening

Morning – It was a “misty, moisty morning, cloudy was the weather“. I broke with tradition and left home before breakfast. I sneaked through the woods and startled a couple of deer drinking in the River Plym. They took flight, bounded noisily across the water to the far bank and dashed away through the woods. My approach had not been as stealthy as I thought. The river was low and clear, a few leaves swirled in the back eddies. Beech leaves, usually the last to be shed, made up the bulk of the debris. I stood beside an alder tree, watching the water for any signs of trout. There were none. A kingfisher zoomed past heading downstream, piping as it disappeared under the bridge.

I waited for about an hour, watching the mist condense and evaporate. The pool upstream looked beautiful in the low morning light. I heard a deer approach from behind. I was unsighted, shin deep in it’s watering hole, hidden by a hazel bush. I became a statue but the deer sensed me and moved away. A sea trout rose at the top of the pool and that was my sign to get closer. A long detour through the bracken enabled me to get into position behind a gorse bush. The kingfisher returned with its mate and the pair, constantly piping to each other, darted around the pool looking for tiddlers.

The sea trout were active, a fish splashed every twenty minutes and there were occasional silver flashes deep in the water as they tried to get rid of lice. My eyes adjusted to the rock patterns and shadows, fish movement became more obvious. A big fish, 2-3lbs, crept alongside a fold in the bedrock and then finned away towards a sunken tree trunk. It returned to open water and shot two feet into the air. A fresh run bar of silver. There were several fish in the pool. As the sun rose their activity decreased and after an hour, the pool looked barren. I’d left my rod in the Defender but I had caught the beauty of the morning, the kingfishers and sea trout with my camera. I had a fry-up when I got home.

Evening – I was conscious that the end of the season was fast approaching and that I would have no excuse to visit my favourite places on the River Tavy. The light rain ensured that there were no strangers with spaniels beside the river, only sheep. The bracken was waist high and the river channeled mid-stream. I had access to runs and pools that were normally unreachable. Thousands of pheasant poults covered the track and hillside. They had recently been released and wandered around aimlessly. I went upstream without disturbing them. I took a rod.

The top pool had a good flow and I missed a take on a weighted nymph. Lower down the pool a couple of fish rose for large, brown upwing flies but I decided to stick with the nymph.

I watched the runs and riffles for signs of feeding trout but the river was quiet. About a dozen grey wagtails were ambushing flies from rocks mid-stream and along the far bank but I think the trout population had been devastated by predators. They were easy pickings in the shallow, clear water. I walked downstream to the Hut Pool where I was sure to catch a trout. A couple of fish rose in the bubble lane, way out of reach.

The climb back out of the valley over damp granite rocks exercised every moving part of the Defenders suspension and some parts that are not designed to move. Both wing mirrors brushed the bracken and briar along the farm track towards the village. It had been a rewarding day. No fish had been caught, it was enough to be beside the water. The River Rother beckons.